Tag Archives: Relationships

How You Can Benefit from Blurry Vision

Be tough on the problem and easy on the people.

    - Roger Dawson, Extraordinary Teacher of Negotiating

Most people would say wearing glasses is less than ideal. They indicate that you cannot see well, tend to get very uncomfortable especially after wearing them all day, and often are aggravating like when you cannot find them. Is there anything worse than looking for your seeing-aid when you cannot see well? As a glasses wearer, I am onboard with all of these or was until a few days ago.

How You Can Benefit from Blurry Vision

I had just finished running and was taking my usual cool-down walk around the little building that houses my office when I met two of the people who work upstairs from me. We started chatting and somehow the topic of eyesight came up. I mentioned that since I did not have my glasses on they looked a little blurry, sort of like the soft focus so common in classic black and white movies. They were quite pleased to be connected to such a setting, one in which flaws are obscured.

I commented it was equally pleasant to be able to engage with people and not see any imperfections or faults. It was a Navy Rabbi moment. As I headed to the shower I thought about whether flawed vision is better. My conclusion – most of the time:

View People as if You Are Not Wearing Glasses

During everyday situations, it is much better to overlook people’s shortcomings. This is particularly true about your family and friends. Are your spouse’s foibles going to change just because you point them out yet again? Will your child suddenly see the light when you address his inadequacies one more time?

Even with strangers, what is the point of seeing all of their defects? Better to view them through the fog of indistinct vision.

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When is visual acuity required? If you are entering into a significant relationship with someone you need to clearly see his faults before committing. Whether it is a marriage or a business partnership, overlook reality at your peril. However, the goal is to understand the challenges these faults will create rather than searching for someone without shortcomings. This leads to concept number 2:

Keep Your Glasses on When Looking at Situations

You cannot go through life with blinders on. Challenges, be they physical, mental, or spiritual, rarely improve through a less than candid assessment or a fantasy plan to address them. Better to see difficulties clearly and map out a well-defined strategy to handle them.

Roger Dawson is right about more than just negotiating. His philosophy of being easy on people and tough on problems is a recipe for living successfully and intentionally.

Question – What benefits or detriments do you think there are to flawed vision?

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Right and Wrong Way to Express Caring – And How to Tell Them Apart

“If like the death of all men’s deaths, will be accounted on them [Korach and his co-conspirators] the accounting of all men, it is not G-d who has sent me.” (Bamidbar/Numbers 16:28). Moses lets Korach and his followers know that they will soon die unnatural deaths; harsh language from the most humble of all humans.Right and Wrong Way to Express Caring – And How to Tell Them Apart

The parsha for this Sabbath is Korach. From the infamy of the spies we now go to the rebellion of Korach and his 250 followers against Moses and Aaron. Unlike the complaining for food, water, and other things that went on before, Korach, a cousin of Moses and Aaron, sought to depose them and assume their roles. He tried to take advantage of the Israelite’s unhappiness with Moses over the decree that they would wander in the wilderness for 40 years. As a result of their rebellion, the 250 insurgents were consumed by fire and the earth swallowed their households. Indeed, a severe punishment.

The great Kabbalist, Rabbi Moshe Alshich, brings the analogy of a doctor who needs to amputate a hand or foot in order to prevent the spread of a disease. Although such a cure may seem cold-hearted, even cruel, it is actually the kindest course of action since it will save the person’s life.

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Moses saw that Korach had already infected 250 people with the spirit of rebellion. In an act of compassion for the rest of the Israelites, he had to take severe steps to stop its spread. Yet Moses was not hasty in this action. He pleaded with the conspirators to change their ways. He “fell on his face” (Bamidbar/Numbers 16:4), pleading that G-d would not punish them and the people the way He had the spies. His entreaties were to no avail. Only then did Moses act so strictly.

When you find yourself in an intractable situation, especially with your children, you must try every technique to convince them to do the right thing. But no amount of love or compassion should prevent you from imposing stern measures for the recalcitrant. This is the true meaning of Proverbs 13:24, “spare the rod and spoil the child.” Frequently taken as a license to strike a child, rather it is an adjuration not to shirk from using strict discipline when necessary.

Moses took a tremendous risk when carrying out G-d’s commands that led to the destruction of Korach and his followers. The Israelites might have rejected him, ceased loving him. Yet his love for them was so great he did what was necessary to save them. In the final analysis, this is the truest test. Will you risk losing love in order to save a loved one?

Question – Should spanking be among the punishments used to discipline children?

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How to Improve Your Relationships Through Selective Memory

Remember when someone humiliated you? Perhaps your spouse treated you badly. Are these experiences still as clear as day? Are you still pained by them? As a result, did your relationship with the person stagnate or atrophy? Has your behavior toward other people changed?

Would you like to be relieved of these wounds?

How to Improve Your Relationships Through Selective Memory

The more important a relationship, the more crucial it is that you develop a selective memory.

Throughout my ten years of marriage, I have made it a point to forget the hurtful things my wife has said and done to me. All pandering aside, I am fortunate that they are few and far between. Nonetheless, early in our marriage. I became convinced that storing up these pains would destroy our relationship. Now, when we have an argument that relates to a past hurt, in most cases, I am forced to deal only with the situation at hand. Here are ways to condition yourself to forget:

  1. Whenever you find yourself dwelling on a painful incident, refocus your thoughts to something positive but unrelated to the person and incident.
  2. Play some music that you like and that puts you in a good mood. (See why I love swing? How can you be unhappy when listening to such peppy tunes?)
  3. Exercise causes so many positive physiological changes in your body it will be difficult to retain negative thoughts about a loved one.
  4. Develop a counter mantra for the incident so that when you think the negative thought follow it with a positive one.

If you find you cannot forget what happened this is a good indication that the issue was not resolved. You either need to re-engage the person to do so or determine how the relationship needs to be permanently altered so you can move on.

But this is only one-half of being selective about memories. Of at least equal importance is that each day I write in my journal something good that Melanie has said or done, or a good quality she has. By doing so I keep my mind focused on the positive aspects of my bride and our relationship.

According to the Harvard Business Review, it takes five positive comments to outweigh one bad one, so when you daily journal favorable and constructive characteristics and behavior about your loved one you build up a reserve against a negative incident.

You can control only two things in your life: what you say and what you do. But with practice, you can achieve some discipline over your thoughts. For living intentionally there is no more important skill to work on.

Question – How do you accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative in your relationships?

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